Faaturuma (Melancholic), 1891
Oil on canvas
"Disillusioned with modern society, Paul Gauguin left France for Tahiti in 1891 in search of an earthly paradise that he imagined was untouched by civilization. Upon arriving, he realized that colonialism had all but eradicated traditional Tahitian culture. Here, a Tahitian woman wears a Western-style dress and gold marriage band introduced by Catholic missionaries. In order to emphasize the “exoticness” of his subject, Gauguin gave his painting a Tahitian title, Faaturuma. This roughly translates to melancholic or brooding; Gauguin appears to be commenting on the sadness of this lost paradise."